Linguapax collaborates with UNESCO as a member of the ad hoc group for the drawing up and implementation of a Global Action Plan for the International Decade of Autonomous Languages IDIL 2022-32.
With the aim of disseminating information on the Decade, we are today publishing the first of a series of summaries of the activities carried out in this framework.
As a part of the preparatory process for the International Decade of Indigenous Languages 2022-2032 (IDIL2022-32), the UNESCO is arranging regional consultations for a constructive dialogue on Indigenous languages and related issues, where a diverse range of stakeholders is called on to identify regional priorities and future regional activities for the drawing up and implementation of the Global Action Plan.
The regional consultation for the Eastern Europe and Central Asia took place from 15 to 16 March 2021, organized by the UNESCO Almaty Office with the collaboration of headquarters. Participants included representatives of national governments, indigenous people and organizations, scholars and experts in the field of indigenous languages, linguistic diversity and multilingualism for sustainable development.
Here is a summary of the first day of the event. You can also access and download the documentation at this link.
To open the event, the actor of the National Theatre of the Republic of Karelia, Mr Santeri Kuikka, performed a Karelian traditional song, and Ms. Krista Pikkat, director of the UNESCO Office in Almaty, welcomed the participants.
The director of the International Centre for Rapprochement of Cultures, Mr Olzhas Omarovich Suleimenov, spoke about “Building strategic synergies and establishing a new path between two decades in the region: the International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022 -2032) and the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures (2013-2022)”. This proposal is consistent with the guiding framework of the Global Action Plan, which calls for the creation of synergies with international development frameworks, UN decades, international years and days, and others.
Ms. Irmgarda Kasinskaite-Buddeberg, Advisor for Communication and Information in the UNESCO Communication and Information Sector illustrated the results of the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages (IYIL2019) in terms of global actions and media coverage. She also recalled the main goals of the IDIL 2022-2032: to draw attention to the serious loss of the world’s language diversity and to raise awareness on the need to urgently act to preserve, revitalize and promote indigenous languages, under the leadership of the UNESCO, in collaboration with UNDESA (United Nation Department of Economic and Social Affairs) and other relevant agencies.
She also explained the preparatory process of the Decade, which includes the creation of a Global Task Force, the preparation of a Global Action Plan through an online survey, the work of an ad-hoc group (which Linguapax belongs to) and thematic and regional consultations. It also includes a feasibility study for the establishment of financial mechanisms and a global communication plan.
Finally, Ms. Kasinskaite-Buddeberg presented the preliminary results of the online survey – the deadline for which has been extended to 25 May-, and proposed a draft of the Global Action Plan and a set of principles and purposes of the feasibility study. Finally, she presented the communication strategy and the preliminary design of the IDIL2022-32 webpage.
After situating participants in the context, the consultation started with a roundtable on “Linguistic Diversity in the Region”, moderated by Mr. Dainius Radzevicius, chairman of the Lithuanian Journalists Union. A brief summary of the general language situation in Eastern Europe and Central
Asia was offered by Mr Christopher Moseley, former editor-in-charge of the UNESCO Atlas of Languages in Danger, who also highlighted some relevant issues such as:
– the different language policies implemented by the many states that belong to Central Asia and Eastern Europe, which produce a variety of circumstances not to be neglected;
– the difficulty of establishing a unique criterion to distinguish languages from dialects and the diverse rationales adopted by different states;
– the existence of non-territorial languages, such as Romany or Yiddish, and the need to enrich language maps with non geographical data.
Mr Alexey Tsykarev, member of the UN Permanent Forum of Indigenous Issues and chair of the “Young Karelia” Center for Support of Indigenous Peoples and Civic Diplomacy , pointed out the legal recognition of the indigenous peoples’ rights to use, develop and transmit their languages and cultures, and the role played by the International Year of Indigenous Language in emphasizing an approach based on human rights which must guide language policies throughout the world. Finally, he remarked the need to focus on fostering and removing the obstacles to the use of indigenous languages in education, media and decision-making processes.
Mr Erden Zada-uly Kazhibek, president of the International Center for Turkic Studies stressed the need to keep in mind the diversity of indigenous peoples living today, according to the number of members, the different types of statehood and their political relations with the territory of origin. This is necessary in order to identify different need and priorities. He proposed a detailed roadmap for each of the three main categories of indigenous people in Central Asia, and a set of measure to ensure the coordination of the different actions.
During the second part of the day, there was a group work session to collect evidence from the Eastern Europe for the drawing up of the recommendations for the IDIL2022-2032 Global Action Plan . Two working groups for Russian and English speakers simultaneously dealt with topics such as key principles, stakeholders, target groups, regional priorities and key challenges.
*Alexey Tsykarev is teacher of the MOOC Linguistic Diversity, What for?. In his video-lesson he explains the historical and political context of the Karelian language.